February is Black History Month, a month to reflect on the life-changing contributions African Americans have made to the United States.

This week happens to be the birthday of Rosa Parks. For those who may not remember your history, in 1955, Parks refused to give up her seat for a white man on the bus she was riding. Her actions sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott which lasted 381 days and ended with the Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public transportation was unconstitutional.

Thursday marks Rosa Parks' 108th birthday, and to celebrate her achievements and Transit Equity Day, Hart Transit will be offering free rides systemwide for the day.

John Gatto is the Marketing Coordinator at Hart Transit and he told us why the company is celebrating the day.

"The day is celebrated nationally and other transit organizations in the state are also honoring the day. It all comes down to celebrating Rosa Parks' birthday with Transit Equity Day which highlights the belief that safe, accessible, and affordable transit is a basic civil right."

Hart Transit Facebook Image
Hart Transit Facebook Image

According to Wikipedia.com, Rosa Parks is an iconic figure among many of the civil rights era. She chose the tactic of refusing to give up her seat on the bus as an act of resistance, and to show the rights of all people, no matter the color of their skin.

One interesting fact that you may not know. Parks was not actually in the 'white only' section of the bus, but as that section filled up, African Americans were suppose to vacate their seat if there was no seats for a white person.  Parks was sitting in the front row of a middle section of the bus open to African Americans if seats were vacant. After the “whites-only” section filled on subsequent stops and a white man was left standing, the driver demanded that Parks and three others in the row leave their seats. While the other three eventually moved, Parks did not. For her actions, the United States Congress has called her the 'first lady of civil rights', and the 'mother of the freedom movement'.

After her death in 2005, at the age of 92, Parks became the first women to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol. More then 30,000 people showed to pay their final respects.

So if you've got a bus to catch, hop on one of the HART Transit buses and you can ride for free, all in honor of Rosa Parks.

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